Being charged for the quality of your mobile connection

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Today networks are static grids, but SON makes them dynamic allowing them to grow and shrink their cells as demand on those networks change.

So getting a speed boost sounds like a good deal? But there’s a caveat: When your cell expands to give you a better experience, the cells around it are forced to shrink to prevent their signals from interfering.

Users in those shrinking cells might suddenly find themselves booted out of the middle of a cell to the cell edge, where their connections will suffer. SON is designed to produce an overall net benefit — Amdocs estimates it could boost overall network capacity by 10 to 20 percent and reduce dropped calls by 20 percent — but not everyone can have their connections optimized all the time.

That raises some controversial net neutrality issues since it means the network has to favor one link over another. But the mechanics of how carriers pick winners and losers here won’t necessarily be based on the size of their customers’ bills. They could choose to favor certain types of applications, such as the video or VoIP over browsing or email. Or they could discriminate between different content providers, say prioritizing YouTube over Netflix.

But each case comes with its own net neutrality baggage. We’re already seeing evidence of different content being prioritized and throttled on the wireline network. On the wireless network, where bandwidth is far more scarce, that traffic shaping could be far more extreme.

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